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New alliance aims to streamline tax reclamation for business aviation

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Businessman in front of business aviation jet

Satcom Direct (SD), the AI-powered spend management platform MySky, and tax reclamation experts, VAT IT USA, have entered into a strategic alliance to streamline VAT and tax reclamation to mutual customers by leveraging each partner’s technology.

The aggregation of the VAT IT tax recovery option with the MySky financial module, within the digital flight operations platform SD Pro, acts as a force multiplier for flight departments, operators, and owners. After a complimentary one time sign up to VAT IT, tax specialists will assess and process inputted expense and invoice data to initiate the VAT reclamation which saves money, reduces workload, and improves the overall ownership experience.

For those requiring Mineral Oil Tax reclamation, the VAT IT module also supports the highly complicated reclamation process to further enhance the offering.

The first phase of the integration will begin immediately, allowing SD and MySky users to sign-up for the gratis VAT IT service, with the full tax reclamation service slated to be made available through SD Pro and MySky in Q2 2022.

“This arrangement showcases the benefits of our open architecture platform, which allows integration of third-party suppliers to deliver tangible added value to the user experience,” sa Chris Moore, president business aviation, Satcom Direct. “We support an established, international, customer base that uses SD Pro to manage all aspects of flight operations, MySky has the technology to streamline financial management for operators and flight departments, and VAT IT has the expertise to facilitate valuable VAT reclamation for its clients. With this alliance we are truly optimising the power of integration to better serve our customers.”

The new agreement enables an unprecedented means of improving tax recovery, an often cumbersome, and ignored, time-consuming task. “The addition of VAT IT to the combined benefits of SD Pro and MySky heightens fiscal control and efficiencies, giving flight departments and operators significantly bolstered financial and taxation support. By simplifying tax recovery, we are delivering a winning formula for all stakeholders involved with managing the aircraft budgets; even corporate financial departments will welcome the VAT recovery option,” commented Carl de Lange, Managing Director of VAT IT USA.

The MySky module in SD Pro provides access to financial data and proprietary IT tools that help owners and operators reduce costs, refine spending, and improve the overall aircraft ownership experience. “MySky strongly believes in the importance of increasing efficiency for business aviation owners and operators. We are delighted that the alliance with SD and VAT IT significantly simplifies processes and saves time for users. This is another step forward to making operations smoother and more transparent within our sector,” added Jean De Looz, MySky Managing Director Americas.

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US court approvals Intelsat financial restructuring process

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Intelsat HQ exterior

The US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, has approved Intelsat’s Plan of Reorganization, marking the final Court milestone in the Company’s financial restructuring process. Intelsat is poised to emerge from the process in early 2022 upon receipt of regulatory approvals, completion of certain corporate actions, and satisfaction of other customary conditions.

The confirmed Plan will reduce Intelsat’s debt by more than half – from approximately US$16 billion to $7 billion – and position the Company for long-term success as it innovates and brings new services to market. The Plan was supported by all creditor groups across Intelsat’s capital structure following extensive negotiations and the ultimate consensual resolution of a multitude of complex issues.

“Today’s Plan confirmation is a key milestone in Intelsat’s transformation. We have achieved all of the goals we identified at the outset of the process, including a substantial reduction of our legacy debt burden,” said Intelsat’s Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Spengler. “Throughout the process, we have driven our business forward at full speed – launching new satellites, advancing the accelerated clearing of C-band spectrum, acquiring Gogo’s commercial aviation business, progressing our next generation network and service strategy, and serving customers every day with the excellence for which we are known. We greatly appreciate the dedication and contributions of our employees, the support of our valued customers, vendors, and other partners, and the collaboration with our financial stakeholders as we pave the way for future innovation and growth.”

“With a strengthened balance sheet, strong operating model, and unparalleled global orbital and spectrum rights, scale, and partnerships, we will be better positioned to advance our strategic objectives, accelerate our growth trajectory, and fuel the success of our customers and other key stakeholders. Our goals include building the world’s first global 5G satellite-based, software-defined, unified network,” Spengler continued. “For nearly 60 years, Intelsat has been respected for innovation, reliability, sector leadership, and high-performing services and support. We look forward to maintaining our leading position in the satellite communications industry for decades to come.”

Under the terms of the Plan and with exit financing commitments already obtained, Intelsat is set to emerge as a private company, with the support of new equity owners, access to $7.875 billion in capital, and a significantly deleveraged balance sheet. The Company is well positioned to continue to reduce its debt upon receipt of $4.87 billion of accelerated relocation payments in connection with the C-band spectrum clearing project, with $1.2 billion of the total already approved by the Federal Communications Commission for anticipated receipt in January.

Gogo enjoys record Q3 results

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Gogo has announced financial results for the quarter ended 30 September 2021.

“Demand for business aviation connectivity is surging and we expect it to continue to surge for the next several years,” said Oakleigh Thorne, Chairman and CEO of Gogo. “Our Gogo team is doing a great job exceeding customers’ expectations and turning demand into top and bottom line growth.”

“Our record results for the quarter reflect our strong business model as we drive equipment sales and capture recurring service revenue as that equipment comes on line,” said Barry Rowan, Gogo’s Executive Vice President and CFO. “Our balance sheet also continues to strengthen with our improved operating performance and reduced interest expense.”

For the first time in the Company’s history, Gogo achieved positive net income. Net income from continuing operations increased to US$19.7 million, compared to a net loss from continuing operations of $8.9 million in Q3 2020.

Fuelled by strong growth in both service and equipment revenue, total revenue hit $87.2 million, a 31% increase compared to Q3 2020 and 6% compared to Q2 2021.

Service revenue returned a record $66.2 million, an increase of 24% compared to Q3 2020 and 2% compared to Q2 2021. Equipment revenue totalled $21.0 million, an increase of 59% compared to Q3 2020 and 19% compared to Q2 2021.

Elsewhere, total ATG aircraft online (AOL) reached 6,154, an increase of 10% compared to Q3 2020 and 2% compared to Q2 2021. Total AVANCE units online grew to 2,237, an increase of 46% compared to Q3 2020. AVANCE units comprised more than 36% of total AOL as of 30 September 2021, up from 27% as of 30 September 2020.

Isotropic Systems antenna

Isotropic Systems secures over US$37m in additional Series B funding

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Isotropic Systems antenna

Isotropic Systems has raised over US$37 million in an equity financing round, which fully funds the development of its game-changing multi-link antennas through to product launch in 2022.

The round is led by Seraphim Space Investment Trust PLC, and also includes participation from leading strategic and deep-tech venture capital investors including AEI HorizonX, Promus Ventures through its Luxembourg based space investment fund Orbital Ventures, and Firmament Ventures.

As a result, Isotropic Systems has accelerated its production phase in time to support new constellations and satellites launching in GEO, HEO, MEO and LEO orbits from 2022 onwards, and has expanded its workforce by 40% over the last five months.

Isotropic Systems’ patented radio frequency optics technology enables the high-performance multi-link antenna to simultaneously connect to multiple satellites in multiple orbits without any compromise in the performance of each link.

John Finney, Isotropic Systems Founder and CEO, said: “We are delighted to announce this new funding today, which will bring our game-changing technology to reality within the next 12 months. The strong interest we have received from across the industry has given us the confidence to accelerate our growth plans and bring forward the commercialisation of our ground-breaking new terminals, harnessing the potential of the thousands of new satellites being launched across multiple orbits in the year ahead.

Brian Schettler, Partner and Head of AEI HorizonX, said: “Isotropic Systems unlocks the industry’s ability to provide connectivity to the wave of next generation high-throughput satellites given Isotropic’s dramatic improvements in terminal capabilities at lower costs.  The ability to affordably bring seamless and simultaneous connectivity to these new satellites across multiple orbits with different frequencies will be revolutionary, as well as critical to meet the growing demand for broadband data across the globe.”

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Centtrip expands into the US

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Centtrip montage

Fintech business Centtrip has partnered with Adyen to launch its platform, app, and card in the US, with a particular focus on the private and business aviation industry.

The Centtrip card has been designed for the demands of highly mobile organisations such as air charter businesses.

The Centtrip platform gives businesses in the sector real-time visibility and control over their expenses and card payments, helping them empower their pilots and crew, streamline expense payment processes, reduce the cost and risk of carrying cash, and make the accounting process significantly easier.

Jane Turner, Chief Executive Officer, said: “The aviation industry was one of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the fundamentals such as speed and service remain. The Centtrip app and online platform, as well as our high card limits, are tailor made for the private aviation industry when dealing with large expenditure. By expanding into the US, we are giving highly mobile businesses in the private aviation industry more control, flexibility and visibility over their money.”

As part of the expansion Centtrip has opened an office in Miami Beach, Florida, and plans to expand its US based team in the coming months.

Eutelsat Communications has closed its US$550 million equity investment in OneWeb, giving it a 17.6% stake.

Eutelsat completes OneWeb equity investment

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Eutelsat Communications has closed its US$550 million equity investment in OneWeb, giving it a 17.6% stake.

Eutelsat Communications has closed its US$550 million equity investment in OneWeb, giving it a 17.6% stake.

Rodolphe Belmer, Chief Executive Officer of Eutelsat, said: “We are delighted to close this investment in OneWeb, giving us a foothold in the Low Earth Orbit segment. We look forward to working in co-operation with OneWeb as its entry into operational service fast approaches, with almost 50% of the constellation now in orbit.”

OneWeb’s 648 LEO satellite fleet will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity. Its partnership with Eutelsat, a global geostationary satellite operator, will enhance both companies’ commercial potential, leveraging Eutelsat’s established commercial reach to governments and enterprise customers in addition to its strong institutional relationships, recognised technical expertise and global fleet. OneWeb’s ability to address multiple applications requiring low latency and ubiquity will also allow both companies to explore GEO/LEO configurations for future service integrations and packages.

Commenting on the agreement announcement back in April, Belmer stated: “We are excited to become a shareholder and partner in OneWeb in the run up to its commercial launch later in the year and to participate in the substantial opportunity represented by the LEO segment within our industry. We are confident in OneWeb’s right-to-win thanks to its earliness to market, priority spectrum rights and evolving, scalable technology.”

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Intelsat set to enter private hands

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Key creditor groups of Intelsat have agreed to vote in favour of a comprehensive financial restructuring that would reduce the Company’s debt by more than half – from nearly US$15 billion to $7 billion.

The Company has filed an Amended Plan of Reorganization in its Chapter 11 proceedings pending before the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, accompanied by an explanatory Disclosure Statement. The Amended Plan has the support of holders of approximately $11 billion, or nearly 75%, of the Company’s funded debt. These supporting creditors have executed a Plan Support Agreement that binds their support for the Company’s Amended Plan.

Today’s filings and the widespread consensus in support of the Amended Plan should help to achieve completion of the financial restructuring process and the Company’s emergence from Chapter 11 by the end of 2021. The Amended Plan provides that Intelsat will emerge as a private company, with the support of new equity owners, to best advance its strategic objectives and accelerate its growth trajectory, with a path to becoming publicly traded again at some point in the next five years.

Astronics product portfolio for seat back IFE

Rising demand for air travel lifts Astronics performance

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Astronics product portfolio for seat back IFE

Astronics has reported financial results for the three and six months ended 3 July 2021.

Peter J. Gundermann, President and CEO, commented: “Our second quarter was one of slow but steady progress. Our core aerospace markets strengthened as vaccinations took hold and passenger traffic accelerated. We are encouraged by our bookings trend, especially in our Aerospace segment, where we achieved a book-to-bill ratio of 1.32 for the quarter. We expect these bookings will drive higher sales in the second half of 2021.”

Sales for the quarter were US$111.2 million – down $12.5 million from the second quarter of 2020. Aerospace sales were down $13.4 million.

Supply chain pressures became increasingly impactful as the quarter progressed, mostly affecting delivery schedules but with some pricing pressure also. These pressures limited the company’s ability to respond to accelerated or quick-turn delivery requests from customers. The company estimates that revenue would have been $5 million to $10 million higher in the second quarter if its supply chain was performing normally.

According to the company, commercial aerospace continues to see depressed sales relative to pre-pandemic levels. Sales to this market were $47.8 million, or 43.0% of consolidated revenue in the quarter, compared with $67.5 million, or 54.6% of consolidated revenue in the second quarter of 2020. Demand related to new build and retrofit narrow body aircraft is improving and expected to continue to build through 2021 and into the future. The improvement has been driven by growing domestic travel supporting increased production rates of the 737 MAX and narrow body aircraft being placed back in service. The production and utilisation rates of widebody aircraft have remained very low as international travel has been slow to recover.

EBusiness Jet sales were down $0.5 million, or 3.5%, to $15.0 million.

Gundermann stated: “Our aerospace business is seeing solid demand recovery, most evident in narrowbody commercial transports and general aviation. This has driven higher bookings and a solid 1.28 book-to-bill ratio for the first half of 2021, despite continued weakness in the widebody international market, which is well documented.”

Viasat posts record revenues

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Viasat has revealed record Q1 fiscal year 2022.

Satellite Services revenue increased to US$274 million, a 36% increase YoY. Gains were partially driven by improving in-flight connectivity (IFC) service revenues as passengers return to air travel. In Commercial Networks Viasat saw the top line expand sharply by 77% YoY, totalling $119 million for the quarter. The main growth drivers were accelerating mobile terminal deliveries primarily in support of Delta Air Lines and their updated Wi-Fi service launch this year, as well as continued growth in its ground antenna systems business. Icelandair began flying its Viasat-equipped aircraft on transatlantic flights between the US and Europe

Viasat’s IFC business continued to recover both YoY and sequentially. The company’s airline partners returned more aircraft to service, with the number of active aircraft increasing to approximately 1,400 (on an installed base of 1,550 aircraft) at the end of Q1 FY2022, up over 80% YoY.

Gogo reports strong Q2 performance

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Gogo has released its financial results for the quarter ended 30 June 2021.

The company achieved total revenue of US$82.4 million, an increase of 51% compared to Q2 2020 and 12% compared to Q1 2021, fuelled by strong growth in both service and equipment revenue.

According to Oakleigh Thorne – Chairman & Chief Executive Officer: “Demand for business aviation in-flight connectivity is accelerating. Our advanced platform is perfectly positioned to take advantage of that acceleration and our vertically integrated business model is converting that demand into sustainable very positive bottom-line performance for Gogo.”

Speaking to analysts, Thorne highlighted the positive performance of the AVANCE L5 platform. “While AVANCE revenue and shipments were strong for the quarter AVANCE orders for Q3 and Q4 are even stronger. And orders for 2022 are looking like they will be even stronger than 2021, all of which will have long-term benefits for Gogo,” he noted.

Another significant revenue driver for Gogo, is the rapid increase in the amount of data consumed by passengers as they use more data-intensive applications such as streaming, file sharing and video conferencing. Across its entire fleet, Gogo customers consumed 52% more data in Q2 2021 than they did in Q2 2019, driven by 26% increase in megabytes per flight hour and 20% increase in flight hours per day.

Thorn revealed that data consumed across large and charter and fractional flights nearly doubled over 2019. Gogo has launched four streaming plans for AVANCE customers including a new limitless streaming plan to take advantage of this demand, selling more than 50 of those streaming plans to date, driving an increase of $193 per month ARPU per AVANCE aircraft online.

During the analysts call, Thorne also provided an update on the progress of some of the company’s strategic initiatives.

Thorne confirmed that its 5G antenna had completed flight testing was readying for qualification testing in Q4. During Q2, Gogo installed and tested its first 5G base station antenna array as it prepares for Q4 installation of a seven tower test bed. The 5G core is simply awaiting integration testing, while the prototype of the 5G airborne LRU has been tested prequel testing begun. In with expectations, Gogo expects a commercial launch of Gogo 5G in the second half of 2022.

The hardware portion of the AVANCVE L5 5G upgrade is designed to be easy and inexpensive. As Thorne explains, “We will replace the two L5 antennas with two 5G antennas that fit in the exact same attachment points as the L5 antennas. And will add a small box next to the AVANCE box inside the aircraft.”